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Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

December 13, 2012

Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in what seems like an endless slump, many have come to question the validity of a college education in disciplines that don’t guarantee definite career paths for students once they’ve graduated. Majors on the chopping block include those in the humanities and social sciences and universities across the country aren’t turning a deaf ear to the issue: Officials in Florida are considering reducing tuition in order to steer students towards majors that are in demand in the job market.

Governor Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers are urging Florida’s 12 state universities to nudge students toward job-friendly degrees and suggesting that universities freeze tuition rates for three years for majors in “strategic areas.” In theory, an undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology – whose classes are among the most expensive – than for a degree in history or psychology. Financing from the state would be expected to make up for the tuition gap. Now while the initiative is popular among state officials, liberal arts devotees at the University of Florida have organized a protest petition which has gained signatures from across the state. They argue that the move would inevitably reduce the number of students who take humanities classes, further diminishing financing for those departments.

What do you think of Florida’s attempt to encourage students into certain majors with financial initiatives? Do you think steering students into fields that they have little interest or aptitude in just to save money could lead to discontent in their futures? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

December 20, 2012

College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

by Suada Kolovic

College board members have released a statement – “It’s not me, it’s you.” Okay, those might not have been their exact words but that was the overall message: According to a survey on higher education, most board members believe that higher education costs too much...but a majority also say their own institutions’ prices aren’t the problem. Society responded with a cynical, “Riiiiiiiight.”

A report on the recent “College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap Between Higher Education and the Public?” survey revealed a whopping 55 percent of respondents said higher education in general is too expensive relative to its value but 62 percent said that their institution costs weren’t the problem and were, in fact, appropriate. Susan Whealler Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Association of Governing Boards, said the survey is important because it provides insight into how board members perceive public concerns about higher education and how they then act in the boardroom. "What we have noticed is there's a major gap between the two,” said Johnston. The survey drew 2,539 responses from among the nearly 14,000 board members from the public and private colleges invited to participate in the survey about perceptions of college prices, costs and outcomes, with a response rate of 18.3 percent.

For more on this survey, click here...then tell us what you think!

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California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

January 4, 2013

California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

by Suada Kolovic

In what seems to be a growing trend across the country, a California state legislator is the latest elected official to push for a bachelor’s degree that costs no more than $10,000 total (yes, total!). And while last year’s college graduates left school with an average of $25,000 in debt, the possibility of a $10,000 degree to incoming college freshman is encouraging.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) introduced the bill following similar initiatives in Florida and Texas: In the proposed California legislation, students would start to earn college credit in high school through Advanced Placement courses and would then enroll full-time at a community college. The state university would in turn accept up to 60 credits for transfer. The problem? There’s the possibility that the state itself could be responsible for much of the cost since the bill requires that schools and colleges be reimbursed for any mandated expenses. As of right now, the legislation has only one sponsor while the speaker of the California Assembly, a democrat, reportedly has alternative plans for higher education reform.

Given California’s current budget woes, do you think the proposed legislation is the right option for the state? Let us know what you think.

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Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

January 29, 2013

Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of American’s agreed that one had to earn a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to a report, millions of college graduates suffer a mismatch between education and employment and hold jobs that don’t require costly degrees.

The study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity says that nearly half of all American college graduates in 2010 – nearly three years after the recession began – were underemployed, holding relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs. Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Authors Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe and Christopher Denhart agreed that the country could be overeducating its citizens and questioned if too many public dollars were being spent on producing graduates that the nation’s economy doesn’t need. "Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students," Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There's a good chance you may end up being a bartender." (For more on this study, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? Let us know what you think.

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Bloomberg’s Latest Donation to Johns Hopkins Tops $1 Billion Mark

January 31, 2013

Bloomberg’s Latest Donation to Johns Hopkins Tops $1 Billion Mark

by Suada Kolovic

Giving back to your alma mater is a tradition deeply rooted in the inner workings of any university. Once your status has shifted from “student” to “alumni,” you can bet there is an expectation for you to give back. And while some go out of their way to avoid the financial strains of contributing (we are technically still in a recession), Michael Bloomberg isn’t one of them: The New York City mayor’s latest $350 million pledge has pushed his lifetime donations to his alma mater past the $1 billion mark. Yup, that’s billions. With a b.

Johns Hopkins announced the donation late Saturday, saying it believed Bloomberg – who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP – is now the first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university. (This assertion, however, is hard to verify since many donors tend to give anonymously.) About $250 million of Bloomberg’s latest contribution will be part of a larger effort to raise $1 billion to foster cross-disciplinary work at Johns Hopkins; the remaining $100 million will be devoted to need-based financial aid for undergraduate students in the form of 2,600 Bloomberg scholarships in the next 10 years. "Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the statement issued by the university. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."

What do you think of Bloomberg’s generosity? Do you plan to donate to your college after you graduate?

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Changes to 529 Savings Plans

February 5, 2013

Changes to 529 Savings Plans

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you’re going to pay for your college education can be intimidating. No one wants to pay off student loans for the rest of their lives, full-tuition scholarships are rare and federal student aid seldom covers all college costs but if you’re lucky enough to have a parent or relative willing to help curb the financial strains, it’s important to note that college savings plans are becoming increasingly flexible and affordable. Here are some of the changes to the 529 savings plans for 2013:

  • Increase gift tax exemptions: Grandparents can gift $14,000 annually before they’re charged a gift tax. Since five years of the exempted amount can be gifted at one time, that’s a five-year donation of $70,000 per grandchild while a married couple could potentially gift $140,000, provided they don’t give additional funds to the same grandchild in the five-year span.
  • Expanded qualified expenses: Last year, families couldn’t use 529 plan funds for laptops, iPads, internet service and software but the IRS is going high tech and realizes these are necessary items for higher education. Parents of a student who receives a full or partial scholarship can now use the funds to enhance their child’s educational experience.
  • Declining plan prices: Competitive bidding among plan management companies to run 529 plans on behalf of states is contributing to the trend of downward pricing. (For more information about 529 plans, click here.)
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Four College Majors to Avoid

February 7, 2013

Four College Majors to Avoid

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish after graduation? And while there isn’t one direct route that translates into success, Georgetown University’s Center on Education has compiled a list of majors that college students should avoid:

  • Liberal Arts (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 9.2 percent): Studying a broad palette of subjects including everything from literature and philosophy to history and sociology sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, employers may not see a liberal arts degree in the same divine light as the ancient Greeks did.
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 10.8 percent): With the demand for these two degrees particularly lackluster, it’s difficult to justify them as your desired majors. Susan Heathfield, a career expert and writer of About.com’s Guide to Human Resources, suggests considering a degree in communications instead.
  • Information Systems (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 11.7 percent): "I'm not exactly sure what someone would do with [an information systems] degree in the current world," Heathfield says. "In the early days, the roles of various programmers, software developers, and network administrators were more distinct, but not anymore. Now the degree to have is computer science or computer engineering."
  • Architecture (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 13.9 percent): Thanks to the massive hit the housing and commercial real estate industries took in the past decade, architecture has highest unemployment rate among the degrees examined. If you’re interested in the process of planning and designing, engineering might be a more lucrative option.

What are your thoughts on the majors that made the list? Do you agree that they should be avoided at all costs or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high employment rates? Let us know in the comments section.

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Incoming University of Texas President Turned Down $1 Million Salary

May 15, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Understanding how to negotiate your salary is a skill that you’ll hone over your career. Normally, many new employees want to negotiate for higher salaries...but for some, that's not always the case: Incoming University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves turned down a $1 million salary because he thought it was too much. Say what?

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Fenves said (in emails obtained by the newspaper) that a $1 million salary was "too high for a public university" and that it might prompt "widespread negative attention from student and faculty given the difficult budgetary constraints of the past five years." Instead, he requested a salary of $750,000 and requested that an annual bonus be capped at 10 percent of his base salary. "It's very, very unusual, especially with what's going on today with presidential salaries. They keep going up and up and up," said James Finkelstein, a public policy professor at George Mason University who studies executive compensation in higher education. (For more on this story, check out Inside Higher Ed.)

What do you think of Fenves' decision to request a lower salary? Should more college presidents follow in his footsteps? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out our college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Study: Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

February 13, 2013

Study: Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

by Scholarships.com Staff

Community colleges across the country have seen a steep decline in enrollments this year for a few reasons. A recovering economy steering students toward jobs and budget cuts that have led to fee increases have played key roles but changes to federal Pell grant eligibility are most notable. According to a new study, community colleges in the Deep South have been hit hardest by the changes that took effect last year.

The study, by Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama director Stephen Katsinas, argues that community college enrollments in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are highly sensitive to changes in the federal grant program. Enrollment in 47 of the 62 two-year colleges across the three states declined this past fall and more than 5,000 students lost Pell grants – a change that the report's authors say can be directly attributed to the changes in eligibility. Students are now limited to just six years of Pell grants, fewer students automatically qualify for the maximum grant because of a lower income cap for receiving an “automatic zero” expected family contribution and students without a high school diploma or GED are no longer eligible.

While many states have started to see their economies improve, that’s not the case for the three states included in the study. In fact, not only have their economies not recovered but state-supported student aid programs are much smaller, so colleges have fewer resources for low-income students who no longer qualify for Pell grants. Both Pell grants and community colleges are "vital to enhancing college degree completion in the Deep South, for it is the community colleges where economically disadvantaged students begin higher education," the study noted. The enrollment numbers were based on surveys of community college officials. All of the two-year colleges in the three-state region responded. However, the national enrollment data for 2012 hasn't been compiled yet, said David Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.

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Top Majors for College Class of 2014 Announced

April 23, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're struggling to come up with ideas for possible majors and post-collegiate careers, looking at majors that are sought after may not be a bad place to start. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), organizations are most interested in hiring new college graduates with bachelor's degrees in the business, engineering and computer science fields. Nearly 70 percent of the organizations participating in NACE's Job Outlook 2014 survey said they plan to hire business majors and 43 percent said they plan to hire more grads during the fall of 2014 than they did just last year. Here are the top six degrees according to NACE’s findings:

Through the Job Outlook survey, NACE surveys its employer members each year about their hiring plans in order to project the job market for new college graduates. What do you think of the majors that made the list? Any surprises?

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